A rural Carlow parish is the latest victim of the decline in vocations with the village of Tinryland losing its priest in the annual summer reshuffle of clergy.
The administrator of the Kildare and Leighlin diocese, Monsignor Brendan Byrne told parishioners he had no option but to merge their parish with the adjacent parish of Askea and Bennekerry.
Msgr Byrne travelled to Tinryland to break the news that their parish priest, Fr. John McEvoy, is to move to Paulstown in County Kilkenny (to replace Fr Laurence Malone who is retiring) and that, “unfortunately, because of the scarcity of priests, it is not possible to assign a priest to Tinryland parish alone, so the Askea Bennekerry cluster is being extended to three and Tinryland will now be one of that cluster.”
The curate in Askea/Bennekerry, Fr Liam Morgan, will move into the Parochial House in Tinryland.
Monsignor Byrne praised Fr. McEvoy’s work over nine years in Tinryland and called him dedicated and hard working. “Sadly though, it is time for him to move on; he is needed elsewhere and moving to the parish of Paulstown Goresbridge.”
“Here as in many other places, we will link up a number of parishes with the one team of priests looking after them. It happened in Askea Bennekerry in the past and it has been done with Graiguecullen and Arles,” Msgr Byrne went on.
He said that parishes in each cluster would continue to be separate independent parishes with their own finances and parish councils.
And he warned that adjustments in things such as Mass times would be needed because of the workload Fr Morgan and parish priest Fr Tom Little would now have to handle in three parishes, which have four primary and two secondary schools within their boundaries.
The times of some of the Saturday night and Sunday Masses in the three parishes were clashing, he pointed out.
But he acknowledged that the news he brought was not welcome and told them, “It is a great disappointment that you don't have your own separate parish priest and I would love to be in a position to provide one, but unfortunately, it is not possible at this time.”
He said the situation in the diocese would be worse but for the help of the Kiltegan Fathers who help in some parishes.
Msgr Byrne accepted the workload on Frs Little and Morgan would be stretched but said the pastoral team in Askea/Bennekerry is an added resource.
“There are times when they will need additional help and assistance, but when there aren’t the personnel, there aren’t the personnel,” he remarked.